Conference Realignment Hits The Brakes – Conference News Timeline of 9/20/11
So the biggest news from yesterday is that the Pac-12 has opted to remain at 12. That alone will slow up any movement in other conferences. But it was quite an interesting day, with many twists and turns. To sum up the day, here’s a rough timeline of the conference realignment news:
Timeline for Tuesday, 9/20/11 through Wednesday, 9/21/11
11AM: Multiple Big East sources said they have been told by WVU officials that WVU rejected by ACC & SEC. This news led most to believe that Missouri would be the front-runner for the SEC #14 spot.
11AM: A reminder of some Monday news that didn’t get as much press…that JMU AD Jeff Bourne said he expects JMU to upgrade to FBS within 1-2 years.
1PM: A report by @chuckolivernews seemed to imply that the SEC had interest in Louisville for the SEC #14 spot.
2pm: A report out of Kansas City claimed that the SEC had decided on Missouri for #14 and had an offer for them. This would completely contradict the SEC process, where the conference requires a school to apply to the conference before they would extend an offer.
2:30pm: Some rumors surfaces that if Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. left the Big 12, that the proposed Big East merger would happen but that BYU, Boise St., Air Force and Houston would be included as well.
3pm: T. Boone Pickens explains that the Big 12 could be saved. This was the first sign that the Pac-16 was losing steam, something we’d later see as the Pac-12 opted not to expand.
3:30pm: Uconn continues to make it’s point in wanting to join the ACC.
4pm: Texas A&M makes it clear (likely in response to Pickens comments) that TAMU is joining the SEC, regardless of what happens in the Big 12.
4:30pm: As expected, the SEC disputes claims that they invited Missouri.
5pm: Big East planned meeting detailed for the evening. Uconn was not expected to attend and Villanova asked if they could attend. Uconn president would pass on meeting, but school would have representative.
6pm: Oklahoma remaining in the Big 12 gains more traction. Based on comments out of Oklahoma, it was clear that Oklahoma at least had a strong sense that the Pac-12 would not be willing to expand to 14 with Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.
6pm: Penn St. president goes on the record saying Big Ten, nor Big Ten schools are planning anything in regards to expansion.
6pm: Missouri announces public meeting for Thursday in Columbia, presumably to discuss the SEC, Big 12, etc.
6:10pm: As part of Oklahoma’s demands for remaining in the Big 12, they demand that commissioner Dan Beebe be fired.
7pm: Ground shaking, I know…LA Tech communicates with CUSA and Sun Belt
7pm: News of previous Big East plans comes out, includes Navy as football-only and Air Force as well joining.
8pm: It took a while, but WVU officials call the ACC and SEC rejections an “outright lie”.
8pm: Big East and Big 12 cancel any meeting between both parties under fear of legal issues. This was first step in dissolving of the entire merger concept.
8pm: Hold your hats folks, ECU formally applied to the Big East. The twitter universe is still laughing at this one with various hashtags.
8pm: The best in all covering things Pac-12, @jonwilner, reports that the the Pac-12 would have the votes for Pac-16 expansion. And he fully explains how: if Scott were to bring a formal vote on member schools, it would be only if all schools had agree to all Pac-12 demands. This was code that if Texas did not get on board with the Pac-12 TV network, there would be no vote.
8pm: Reports that the SEC had a plan that if Missouri joined with Texas A&M, that Auburn would move to the east division.
8pm: One of the best in realignment news, Pete Thamel, says Missouri is likely the only SEC #14 candidate and that the school would be in a tough spot…keep the Big 12 together after it almost fell apart 2 years in a row or preserve the schools future with a move to the SEC.
8pm: Pete Thamel also reports that no SEC divisional plans had been set, contrary to earlier reports.
8pm: with the Big East meetings occurring at this time, many in the Twitter universe recall how earlier in the day, Penn St. coach Joe Paterno referenced Rutgers as a Big Ten candidate if the conference ever did opt to expand.
9pm: More schools on the outside get some press. Wyoming tells the world what we already knew, that they are not in the position where other conferences are calling them about membership.
9pm: Mountain West confirms that they have had early discussions with Iowa St. The assumption is that the MWC was making a play for Kansas, Kansas St., Iowa St. if the Big 12 imploded. TCU would likely have been brought back as well for a 14 school conference (with Baylor being left out).
9pm: Memories of what could have been…the Paterno proposed eastern football conference that would have have been comprised of the original Big East football members, likely ACC schools like GA Tech and Florida St., as well as possibly Notre Dame.
10pm: As mentioned above, the Pac-12 opted to remain at 12 members. The rationale is quite simple: the Pac-12 was open to adding Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech as the move would bring in 2 programs that would improve the football profile of the conference and improve the per-school revenue. But from the beginning, any expansion would need to involve fully equal revenue sharing. Texas was unwilling to modify it’s LHN network, so the Pac-12 passed.
10pm: With the Pac-12 off the table, Oklahoma will likely reach out to the SEC unless all it’s demands are met in the Big 12. This includes nearly full revenue sharing of the LHN and the removal of Dan Beebe. If the SEC were to include Oklahoma as #14, the state of Oklahoma might require Oklahoma St. as well. So if the SEC wanted OU, it might mean having to expand to 16. Missouri could always still be #16, but again, only if the Big 12 still implodes with an Oklahoma departure…which seems unlikely without the Pac-12 leverage.
Since Midnight: Big East schools have vowed to remain together following their meeting. ESPN reports that the conference will look at UCF, Navy, Air Force, and East Carolina. I’m not sure why Houston is not on ESPN’s list when Houston was high on the Big East radar for the #10 spot just weeks ago. Note that the same ESPN writer here claims ECU has the Raleigh market, despite ECU being on the other side of the state. Obvious issue with this unity pledge: it’s garbage. Uconn and Rutgers are not turning down the ACC if invited.
Since Midnight: Confirmation that the LHN was the deal-breaker in the Pac-12 decision to remain at 12 and pass on the Pac-16.
Since Midnight: report that Big East will be aggressive in expansion. Navy and Air Force at the top of the list and the conference will consider increasing the exit fee from $5 million.
Since Midnight: BYU is expected to be the #10 school added to the Big 12, assuming that Oklahoma does not pursue SEC membership.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011:
You’ll find most of the info from yesterday still holds but with a few additions.
* In addition to the Big East non-football schools discussing a split, the potential Big 12 remnants (should Pac-16 occur) and the remaining Big East football schools are considering a merger. There are multiple scenarios on the table:
1) Big East hybrid brings in all remaining Big 12 schools wich is expected to be a maximum of 5…would give Big East 12 for football and 20 for all-sports.
2) Big East football 7 merge with Big 12 5 under Big East umbrella without basketball-only schools
3) Big East football 7 merge with Big 12 5 under Big 12 banner (assuming the better Big 12 bowls for the time being)
* As mentioned on this site earlier, Villanova did officially apply to the ACC. Mentality is they don’t want to be left behind. Nova would upgrade to FBS football if need be, but would also love to join as a non-football member should a 15th school like Notre Dame join for non-football sports.
* The Big East has claimed that they will hold Pitt and Syracuse to the conference contract, meaning both schools will need to wait 27 months before leaving for the ACC. That’s 3 lame duck seasons and a $5 million exit fee. You can bet that the Big East and ACC lawyers will be negotiating, trying to find a way to get both schools out early for a set fee. ACC schools would likely contribute to the cause since the sooner they get those schools in, the sooner they can renegotiate their TV contracts by adding the Pitt and Syracuse value.
* Note that the Big East TV contract is up for renewal soon. It’s unlikely that networks will be willing to pay as much knowing that both schools and perhaps others will be leaving soon. So it would be wise for the Big East to try to milk the ACC for extra money via exit fees in return to letting the schools out early.
* If the Big East is planning to hold exiting schools to the 27 months, then one shouldn’t be shocked if the ACC invited Uconn and Rutgers sooner than later as they would need to plan 3 years in advance due to exit dates. Adding those 2 schools, 4 total, would give the ACC the majority of the markets/schools that the proposed new Big East TV contract would include.
* As expected, the Big East basketball school coaches want the hybrid to remain as for now, it means they compete against Uconn, Louisville, etc.
* The Mountain West has had preliminary discussions internally (and feeling out the school) about asking TCU if they’d like to remain in the Mountain West. If the Big East were to lose Uconn and Rutgers to the ACC and say Missouri was not part of the Big East/Big 12 merger, TCU might be wise to consider remaining in the MWC. Key will be if the MWC can get a BCS autobid, something the Big East/B12 merger will likely have. But if the group is: TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St., Iowa St., Louisville, Cincinnati, WVU, USF and 1-3 CUSA schools, TCU might still find this group to be more appealing than remain/returning to the MWC.
* The Mountain West and CUSA are again discussing a football-only merger. The idea would be for the 2 separate conferences to combine their TV contracts for football, possibly staging some sort of championship game of champions. Note that the primary motive of the merger will be to gain a BCS automatic berth by claiming that it’s 1 spot for 24 schools, taking political heat off the BCS as it would give BCS access to those 24 schools.
* MWC might try to get BYU back if the conference had a BCS AQ.
* ECU, a school expected to once again be left out of the conference realignment shuffle by the BCS conferences, released a statement you’d expect from the former Iraqi Minister of Propaganda, proclaiming ECU is actively involved in what is happening now. That is not true if by “involved” they mean they have BCS options on their own.
* Both Oklahoma and Texas have granted authority to their school presidents to pursue Pac-12 membership. For Texas though, the regents would need to be back involved if a formal move to the Pac-12 were recommended by their president.
* Oklahoma made it clear that they are less interested in rebuilding the Big 12 due to the threat of litigation by Big 12 members, claim such threats should not be the basis of goodwill if trying to keep a conference member from leaving.
* The ACC has had discussions with Texas regarding all-sports membership, but one of the reported issues is that if Texas joined for all-sports (which is what the ACC seems to be demanding), the ACC would prefer Texas and Kansas, NOT Texas and Texas Tech.
* Uconn feels it has a better than average chance of joining the ACC.
* SEC is rumored to have less interest in WVU as previously thought.
Monday, September 19, 2011:
* As we know from yesterday, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be joining the ACC
* Per sources, the ACC move came as a shock to the Big 12 schools, notably Texas, and has put the primary focus by Texas to be to join the Pac-12 (with Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech) or to rebuild the Big 12.
* Per reports, the Texas and ACC discussions HAD been solely about Texas joining for non-football sports and going independent in football.
* Notre Dame has been another ACC option for non-football sports. The idea was to expand to 14 for football with Syracuse and Pitt, and to bring in Texas AND Notre Dame for non-football sports. The addition of Texas without Notre Dame for non-football sports is not high on the ACC wishlist.
* Per sources, the ACC is showing some flexibility with Texas joining with Texas Tech for all-sports.
* Per sources, the ACC is not willing to be flexible in regards to the Texas LHN, meaning the network revenues would need to be distributed evenly to all ACC members (making membership in the ACC less appealing to Texas).
* Texas had similar interest in the Big Ten, but the Big Ten has no flexibility in regards to the Texas LHN.
* Per sources, the Pac-12 will almost certainly expand to 14 with Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.
* Pac-12 expansion to 16 would be likely approved by the Pac-12 presidents if Texas agrees to the Pac-12 TV demands in regards to the LHN.
* Texas is willing to roll-up the LHN into the Pac-12 TV regional model, but the holdup is in the distribution of revenue. The Pac-12 is holding to it’s demands that a school like Texas will not be permitted to keep more revenue and would need to put that into the “Pac-12 kitty” to be shared by all members. The rationale is that there are Pac-12 TV regional networks in places like Los Angeles that will generate more revenue that say, “Mountain” (Colorado/Utah) yet USC and UCLA have agreed to split the revenue evenly…so Texas would be required to as well if a power like USC is.
* According to Pac-12 writer Jon Wilner, Missouri IS indeed a target for the Pac-12.
* Kansas is a Pac-12 target to a lesser extent.
* Kansas and Missouri would only be considered for the Pac-12 IF Texas passes on the Pac-12 TV demands.
* The Pac-12 is considering a 4 school “Pod” system for alignment so that schools aren’t grouped into hard 8 and 8 divisions. The pods being the preference because each school wants access to California and schools like Arizona and ASU fear being cut off forever if grouped with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, OSU, Colorado and Utah.
* Missouri and Kansas would be part of a pod with Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.
* The very mention and consideration of Missouri and Kansas as potential Pac-16 options are to put MORE pressure on Texas to take it or leave it (regarding Pac-12 offer). Because if Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Missouri and Kansas leave the Big 12, and Texas has then the ONLY option to rebuild the Big 12, Texas would be forced to be in a rebuilt Big 12 conference with a core membership of: Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas St. and Iowa St. Even if they pulled a coup and brought in Louisville, WVU, Rutgers, UConn, TCU…it would be a vastly inferior TV product…especially with the risk that Rutgers and Uconn could still head to the ACC, WVU to SEC.
* The Big East basketball schools are considering a split from the Big East. The fear being that with the Big East down to 7 members, they will need to expand and the likely candidates would be less desirable basketball schools (since the Big East might need to bring in Baylor, Kansas St. and Iowa St. to get Missouri and Kansas without lawsuits from the other 3 mentioned schools.
* The Big East basketball schools are also positioning themselves so that if the core football schools leave for the Big 12, the non-football schools would not be forced to remain with less desirable basketball programs like USF and TCU.
* If the Big East non-football schools did split, they would likely target expansion candidates to 9 or 10 total members. Schools considered at the top of the list would include Xavier, Richmond, St. Louis, Butler, Dayton.
* There have been no developments with the SEC. TAMU has not officially joined until the Big 12 determines it’s own future and there are no threats of member lawsuits. If the Big 12 falls due to a Pac-16 creation, then the SEC would formally bring in Texas A&M for #13. There would be no rush for a #14, but if the Big 12 fell, Missouri would likely apply for the 14th spot, potentially even if the Pac-12 invited them, despite Missouri preferring Big Ten membership. WVU is also considered by many to be a candidate, but has much less to offer financially compared to Missouri in regards to TV market penetration.
* Over the next week of two, we could possible see:
Pac 14: Oklahoma & OSU joining
Pac 16: Oklahoma, OSU, Texas & Texas Tech joining
Pac-16: OU, OSU, Kansas and Missouri joining
ACC 14/16: Texas and Notre Dame joining for non-football sports
ACC 14/16: Notre Dame and Villanova joining for non-football sports
ACC 16: Texas and Texas Tech joining
ACC 16: Uconn and Rutgers joining
SEC 13: Texas A&M joining (confirmed)
SEC 14: TAMU and Missouri joining
SEC 14: TAMU and WVU joining
Big 12 Rebuilt: Texas, TTech, Kansas, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa St. adding 4 new members such as Louisville, WVU, Rutgers, UConn, BYU, TCU, Houston
Big East Reboot: 7 remaining schools bring in 5 remaining Big 12 schools for 12 football/20 school basketball conference
Big East Split: 7 remaining football schools bring in all 5 remaining Big 12 schools for 12 school all-sports conference
Big 12 Reboot: 5 remaining Big 12 schools bring in 7 remaining (or less is some leave) for reboot of Big 12 conference (would allow football schools to all leave Big East, causing a split from basketball schools)
Big East as Basketball-Only: 7 remaining Big East schools, all basketball members, bring in 3 other non-football schools, keeping the Big East brand.
That’s it so far…but it’s only 12:00ET today.